What exactly is Umami? It's kind of like the 6th sense, but with food. It's that unique flavor you can't put your finger on, but you know is there. It's not salty or sweet, bitter or sour, but actually what's known as "The Fifth Taste".
Last week I visited Orange County's 3rd Umami Burger location: Laguna Beach. Founder, Adam Fleischman, now has over 12 Umami locations (not including his additional restaurants like 800 Degrees and Red Medicine). And I have to say, he and the burgers, have come a long way since my first visit to their original location in my old stomping grounds off La Brea in LA.
First of all, the decor is very fitting to the scene with a shabby chic, kitschy sailor, beachy vibe. (The La Brea location felt more like a closet.) Second, the burgers are not as greasy or small, and come with a nicely puffed, U for Umami, branded soft 'n sweet bun.
- my favorite, almost comparable to a New England Lobster Roll, super succulent seafood, order it without the melted cheese that just gets in the way of the silky texture, Lemon Miso (very subtle) Jumbo Lump Crab Melt with Burrata Cheese & Baby Heirloom Tomatoes $15
- tender, juicy, you better eat it while it's hot to take in the Truffle awesomeness (sadly, i waited too long and could barely taste it), Truffle Burger with Housemade Truffle Cheese & Truffle Glaze (freshly made just an hour before!) $12
- didn't try it, but my vegetarian friends wolfed it down, Earth Burger with Mushroom & Edamame Patty, White Soy Aioli, Truffle Ricotta, Cipollini Onions, Lettuce & Slow-Roasted Tomato $12
- the perfect size, crisp outside, soft inside Thin Fries $3.5
- still too sweet, like dessert, Sweet Potato Fries with Brown Sugar & Cinnamon $4
- 6 Complimentary Condiments (clockwise from top left):
Umami Ketchup (i tasted Soy, Fish Sauce or Worcestershire)
House Spread (like Thousand Island Dressing)
Diablo Sauce (mix it with the Ranch to cool this fiery sauce down)
Jalapeno Ranch (the most dippable, unique & popular)
Roasted Garlic Aioli (very Mayo heavy)
House Relish (sweet 'n sour)
- i haven't had a cocktail this good in a long time, fresh, natural, sour 'n spice, Samurai Martini with Grey Goose Cherry Noir, Canton Ginger Liqueur & Lemon Juice $11
Upon walking in, we sat right next to the head chef at the bar. He recommended his favorite, the Hatch Burger with Roasted Green Chiles, American Cheese, then add spicy Diablo Sauce to the mix.
Although the hand model 'n company didn't have room in our bellies this time, I'm positive we'll return – especially for that mouth-watering Crab (minus) Melt and simply divine Samurai Martini.
610 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. 949-342-1210.